The old man watched the video in his study from the comfort of his wheelchair. The elegant, hand-crafted cart had been his legs for the last fifteen years, and despite being surrounded by lavish couches and easy chairs in the study he didn't feel like wasting the energy to hop from one chair to merely sit in another. This day, however, the old man was more intent on watching his forty inch plasma screen, as it gave him quite a spectacle to observe. One of his many contacts from the police station had heard about what happened and had brought a copy of the security tape to the old man. He listened as the woman, clearly emotional and distraught, told the police her tale of woe. He could tell that the officers didn't believe a single word and were more interested in their next doughnut than her fable. They thought she was a raving loony, and that her story would land her in a rubber room one day. But the old man could see feel passion in her words, the anger in her voice. Even if there was a perfectly logical explanation for what had happened, he had no doubt the young woman believed what she claimed to see. He could tell that by the way she tried to convince everyone of what had occurred at that vigil.
When the tape ended, the old man put his automatic chair in reverse and parked it neatly behind his desk. With arms folded he sat there and slowly digested the words he had heard from the young lady in the video. He didn't know what to make of them. Part of him wanted to believe her; he so badly wanted this to be the case. Another part of him told him that it was impossible and foolish to consider; this poor young woman was clearly mistaken and might be in need of professional help. As he sat there in deep thought, he looked back across the desk at the man who had brought the video to his attention.
The detective sitting before the old man had been on his payroll for quite sometime. Nothing illegal, but it never hurt to have your ear to the door when people might be mentioning your name or the name of people you might be associated with. Whenever the detective got something that he thought the wealthy old bugger might be interested in, he brought it over so that he could score some cash to help with his gambling debts. This tape itself seemed like a gamble but he was hoping the fish would bite.
And bite he did. "How much to keep this?" he quietly asked.
"Ten grand." the cop coldly answered, feeling rather confident this was more important than the last few things he'd passed over his desk.
The old man paused for a moment and then nodded in approval. "What happened to the young woman after she left the station?" he asked with intense curiosity.
"She approached half a dozen private investigators in the hopes that someone would take the case. Based on what I've heard from my sources, no one wanted to touch it with a ten foot pole."
"Did she speak to anyone that I might happen to have done business with before?" the old man inquired.
"As a matter of fact she did. I was talking to an ex-colleague of mine downtown and he said she was there this morning." The cop paused and took a sip of scotch, "You've worked with his boss before: Edgar Willis. She pitched the crazy story to him personally this morning. Turns out he didn't react too well to hearing it."
"Ah, Mr. Willis." the old man repeated with a stern tone. The mere mention of the name appeared to bring a sour look upon his face. He paused for a moment and then cracked a smile. "I'm sure Edgar found the story intriguing, but turned it down because of the client's lack of funding. He and Mr. Tucker are not fond of charity work." He chuckled, rewound the tape to the beginning, and watched it again. He paused in mid-play and turned back to the cop, "That will do for now, Mr. Jenkins. Thank you for bringing this to my attention. This will not be forgotten. I'll have twenty thousand wired into your account later today. You'll have it by day's end."
Jenkins was startled by this revelation, "Thank you very much, Sir Norsberg." The cop drained what was left of his glass, grabbed his coat, and showed himself out.
Norsberg didn't even wave; he just continued the tape and watched intently as Jessica Johnson talked to the police, trying to convince them that her mother, who was last seen boarding Flight 77 on September 11th, was spotted alive. The cops not only declined to file any reports, they also asked her if she knew where Elvis and Osama were, leading the young lady to leave the office in tears. He rewound again and again, watching her plead her case.
"I saw her!" she yelled out loud to no one in particular, "I don't know how but she's alive!"
Norsberg stopped the tape once more and sat there in silence. He looked young Jessica in the eyes, and knew in an instant that this was something that was worth perusing. Even if this were nothing more than a wild goose chase, the idea of leaving such a stone unturned was too much for him. He wanted to turn it over, just to be a hundred percent sure what was underneath. Even if her story turned out to be pure rubbish, the amount spent would be a trivial price to pay for that knowledge. Without hesitation, he pressed a button on his phone; moments later a well dressed servant came into the massive study.
"Sir Norsberg." the man said with a slight bow.
"I need you to contact Allen Tucker." Norsberg said, shocked to hear the words coming from his own mouth, "I want to meet with him and Mr. Willis for lunch tomorrow. Make the necessary reservations, and tell them to meet me at the usual place at half past noon."
"You have therapy tomorrow." the servant reminded him.
"So I do." Norsberg recalled, "Set it for the day after instead. I'll have to show a little patience." He looked up at the servant with a hard stare, "Do not take no for an answer."
"Understood, Sir Norsberg."
Norsberg watched his servant quickly vacate the room, off to ensure the errand was promptly carried out. He looked back at the television and observed the passion and confusion in Ms. Johnson's face. She didn't know what to believe anymore. He watched the video several times more.
The old man was very quiet for the rest of the day. The tape had consumed him; he too wanted to know the truth. He wanted to know so badly, he was willing to contact someone he hadn't talked to in years and didn't he have any interest in working with ever again. He was willing to pay anyone whatever they wanted to kick that stone over and find out what was really going on.
Considering the circumstances, it was the least he could do for her.